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Get out there!

August 31 2014
Exercise is a natural de-stresser, says mental health nurse Christina Clark

Exercise is a natural de-stresser, says mental health nurse Christina Clark. So get out there.

I know when I’ve had a particularly bad day, just heard some bad news or just feeling pretty fed up, the first thing I want to do is lie down and shut my eyes. Sometimes I may just feel like listening to some loud music, even the thought of a drink could help ease my stress and I may even sit for a long time just thinking. I feel like doing all the things that are not so good for me.

When I’ve had a stressful day, quite often the last thing I think about is exercise. How is running around the park going to help reduce my worries?

Well, according to the Mental Health Foundation, exercise releases ‘feelgood’ chemicals which can boost your self esteem, improve your concentration and help you to sleep better.

They also recognise how exercise can often provide enjoyment, help people to set themselves achievable goals and provide a sense of purpose.

How active?

The National Health Service recommend that people try to complete 30 minutes a day of exercise five days a week.

It is recommended that you should get to a point where your breathing is a little heavier than usual but not so much that you are out of breath.

You should be feeling warm but not sweaty, and perhaps it's a good idea to break exercise up into three 10-minute sessions or two 15-minute sessions a day.

Often when people think exercise, they think you need expensive gym membership and Lycra gear... This need not be the case.

They are many things that you can do for free (and often they are more fun) and still burn calories, improve your cardiovascular and release those happy chemicals... Who knows? You may actually enjoy it!

A study conducted in 2008 by the Journal of Depression and Anxiety found that those with anxiety disorders saw their symptoms ease after a two-week exercise programme. Previous studies have also shown that those who continue with regular exercise were less likely to experience relapses a year later. Exercising for free

1. Why not try speeding up your usual pace when walking around from place to place.

2. Dancing – believe it or not – is a great way to release happy chemicals. It may not feel like exercise, but it is a great way to burn calories and enjoy yourself in the process!

3. If you live in the capital, a lot of local parks offer free Tai Chi sessions. Check out

4. The Dragon Café in Borough is a great place to hang out, but it also offers boxing sessions, yoga and even some mindfulness for afterwards. Check out their website at:

5. Going jogging doesn't have to involve expensive gear and running trainers – in fact, on a nice day you could even run round the park for a gentle jog barefoot.